Levin, Cumbo, Treyger among winners
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The results of primaries for City Council seats around Brooklyn saw the defeat of a longtime incumbent, a big win for a freshman councilman, and victories for the favorites in two other closely-watched races.
In what was perhaps the biggest shocker of the night, Councilwoman Sara Gonzalez (D-Sunset Park-Red Hook), who has been in office since 2002, was defeated by community activist Carlos Menchaca. The challenger garnered 57.6 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary, easily beating Gonzalez, who had 42.4 percent.
Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Greenpoint-Williamsburg) easily beat back a challenge from Stephen Pierson, 70 percent to 29 percent. Levin will run for a second term in office in November.
The race was at times nasty, with Pierson frequently trying to tie Levin to disgraced former assemblyman Vito Lopez, for whom the councilman had once served as chief of staff. Lopez had been accused of sexually harassing female staff members, but Levin pointed out that none of those incidents took place during the time he worked in Lopez’s office.
In a pre-primary article, The Gothamist called the Levin-Pierson contest one of the five most important races in the city to watch.
On the last day of the primary campaign, Levin issued a statement blasting a mailing Pierson sent out regarding the Lopez matter. “As everyone knows, when the facts came out about Vito Lopez’s reprehensible behavior I called on him to resign and remove himself from public life. I have zero tolerance for sexual harassment and as the reports showed, it never happened under my watch,” Levin stated.
Levin called the mailing ‘a disservice to the voters” and “textbook negative campaigning.”
Levin charged that Pierson “has built his run for City Council on smears and character assassinations.”
Speaking of Lopez, his attempt at a political comeback fell short. He had been seeking a City Council seat. Lopez, who ran in the Democratic Primary in the 34th Council District (Bushwick-Ridgewood), lost to Antonia Reynoso 49.2 percent to 37.2 percent.
In the race to succeed Councilwoman Letitia James (who ran for public advocate), Laurie Cumbo was the winner in a crowded field of candidates, earning 35.4 percent of the vote. Her closest rival, Ede Fox, earned 26 percent.
In her victory speech, Cumbo told supporters she would work to increase economic development in the district, which includes the neighborhoods of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill. “I care deeply about this community, and I will work toward preserving our diversity, investing in our economic development, strengthening our not-for-profits, providing for our service employees, and reforming education,” she said.
Mark Treyger, a New Utrecht High School civics teacher and a Democratic Party activist, won the primary in the council district covering Coney Island and Gravesend. The current councilman, Domenic Recchia, is term-limited.
Treyger, who is a protégé of Assemblyman Bill Colton (D-Gravesend-Bensonhurst), garnered 45.5 percent of the vote. His closest rival in the crowded field of candidates, Coney Island civic activist Todd Dobrin, earned 28.7 percent.
The race to succeed term-limited Councilman Michael Nelson (D-Sheepshead Bay-Manhattan Beach-Brighton Beach) saw a victory by Brighton Beach activist Chaim Deutsch over journalist Ari Kagan, 33.8 percent to 30.6 percent. Two other candidates, Theresa Scavo and Igor Oberman, trailed far behind with 18.3 percent and 14.3 percent, respectively.